In high school, one of my teachers told me I had an "abused person's personality." At the time, I didn't know what that meant, or how much a label like that could revel about the girl that I was; the woman I was growing into.
A moment of silence, called by the loudspeaker, and I tell my students that-- if they only do one thing on the day before state exams--it should be this. It should be quiet. We should hear each other and appreciate the silence. The luxury of nothingness, without hateful punctuations or the sound of someone crying. But there is already crying because, when there is so little that any one person can control, that is when we first see how deeply we rely on strangers to do the right thing; how often they instead choose to take the world down with them.
I ask the young people in front of me to remember that love matters more, before pain. That, in the aftermath we always remember. Who we are, at our core, is the person weeks later, when the rubble has been blown away. Why, by then, do so many of us forget to lead with kindness? Why are we so afraid to fight with our words? I love words. I fantasize about a turn of phrase and practice the ones that bite my lower lip until the lilt of my tongue itself tastes sweeter for it.
No one can hear atrocities over gunfire. Instead we see loss. Loss is the point in the game where no one has won. Does that make sense? Then why do I still hear the echo of gunshots? Why am I afraid of fireworks?
It hurts my heart to read about gun violence and hate...and the excuses people make for heinous acts. It feels like a day without someone else letting a trigger play god is a luxury we can no longer afford. This is not a world I know how to live in.
Over the weekend, Orlando became home to the worst mass shooting in US history. I can discuss it in small doses. Like most things I don't understand, I circumvent the narrative of hate...I think we are the most bigoted people. We make love taboo, by allowing it to be anything but free for all. This is one event in a long line of cruelties that cannot be justified--but has become typical of our tumultuous world. A world I do not know how to live in.
I've found myself thinking that too often, these days. My heart feels alien, in the way that it thinks and feels. My words fall out of order, fingers fumble to catch a glimmer of something kind. But it is fleeting.
So we put it in a hashtag and we send our warmest regards through the cyberverse but I think we have forgotten something. The people we love are mortal; some die of disease, some of old-age, some decide that the world is one they do not know how to live in. And some just don't come home. Some kiss people who look like them, others kiss pets who seem to have grown similar facial hair. Some call themselves their sisters' names. Their brothers'. But we are mortal.
And it only takes a moment before we are no more.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.